- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
We finally have the brackets in our hands, and notwithstanding a mild surprise or two (welcome to the party, North Carolina State!) the committee has mostly done what a lot of very interested observers said it would do. So let me salute both the committee and the interested observers for their hard work. Time for all of the above to relax and enjoy the games.
But first there is the small matter of filling in that blank bracket staring you in the face. I won't presume to pick every game for you, but I will offer some advice of the cautionary variety. Here are 10 teams, groups or trends to stay away from. I call it my Do Not Pick list.
Do not pick ...
Any No. 16 seed to win a game
Yes, it almost goes without saying, but amid all this talk of "parity" it does warrant a cursory mention. I happen to think it will happen -- someday -- but that 0-116 record compiled by teams seeded on the bottom line since 1985 is the most emphatic "do not pick" in the entire bracket galaxy.
The Mountain West to do much of anything
I tracked every possession in Mountain West play and I recognize that San Diego State and New Mexico are both fine teams. Furthermore both teams have good chances to advance to the round of 32. (The Aztecs face New Mexico State in Spokane; the Lobos will play Stanford in St. Louis.) That being said, history is definitely not on the side of picking SDSU or UNM -- or both -- to make a deep tournament run.
Since the Mountain West first sent teams into the brackets in 2000, the league has posted a 17-38 career tournament record. And of those 38 entrants the conference has sent into the field, just four made the Sweet 16: BYU (now playing in the WCC) and SDSU in 2011, UNLV in 2007 and Utah (now playing in the Pac-12) in 2005. Rather remarkably, no Mountain West team has ever made it as far as the Elite Eight. (In case you're wondering, the Utah team that played in the 1998 national championship game was at the time a member of the WAC.)